Friday, July 24, 2009


When I went to NYC for my birthday back in March, my sisters and I went on a food/walking tour of Greenwich Village. It was really, really terrific! A great way to see the historical neighborhood, sample some great food, and find some restaurants. The funniest part was that we ended the tour with reservations in four or five different restaurants for that evening - then ended up using NONE!

So, when I began planning my Boston trip, I looked around for something similar. Boy, did I hit the jackpot! My sister Meg and I went on the North End Market Tour offered by Michele Topor's Food Tours of Boston this morning, and it was really terrific. The tour was led by Jim, a former chef, and we visited some interesting markets and food sites. We sampled pastries at Maria's Pastry Shop - I had to go back and get a few to take back to the hotel. Amaretti, Totos. Biscotti. Yum. We also visited some Italian markets and butchers, as well as a terrific wine shop. And our guide was a font of information on Italian cooking. I mean, did you know that there are male and female eggplants - and that the male is much sweeter, preferred by most chefs?

If you're in Boston, love food, and are looking for a terrific way to learn about the North End, definitely check out Michele's tours. I am planning to do the Chinatown tour on my next visit!

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

I've shipped up to Boston

A little report from my great New England Trip of 2009. I had a great couple of days in Connecticut with my sister and her clan. The "little boys" are no longer that - they've become "young men." yikes!

I headed to Boston this morning. Checked at my hotel - not surprisingly, my room wasn't ready quite yet. So I headed out for a day of fun! I had seen this place on my last trip to Boston. Great place for a salad! They make it to order - very fresh.

Then I headed to the Museum of Fine Arts. If I lived in Boston, I think I would go here once a week, just to look at the Sargents. They've got a special exhibit on right now called "Titian,
Tinteretto, and Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice."
So, I adore Venice. I adore Renaissance art. You know I'm going to say this was fantastic. And it was! I always get the audio guide to these exhibits - they add so much to the tour. It also reminded me of an awesome site in Venice: the Scuolo Grande di San Rocco - a spot decorated by Tinteretto. Very cool.

I was headed back to my hotel, walking through the Prudential Center arcade. I knew that Dustin Pedroia was due to sign copies of his new book at the Barnes & Noble at 5 pm, but was stunned to see that the line was already forming at 2:30! So, what the heck, I jumped in. Had to stand and wait for quite a while, but the time was quickly passed chatting with others in the line.

Finally, 5 pm arrived. DP was actually ten minutes late - but there was a lot of excitement when we spotted George Kottaras and Nick Green hanging out in the bookstore. They were there to "support" Dustin, I'm sure! The mix of people in the line was really interesting - from the teenage girls who screamed when they spotted DP, to the mom and teenage boy behind me! When he finally started signing, the line moved VERY quickly - I was thru b 5:30! He wouldn't personalize anything - so he couldn't sign it "from the miniature badass" - but he did laugh when I suggested it.

Back to the hotel. Unpacked, and headed back out for dinner at Sonsie. I've wanted to eat there for several years, but never got around to it. Outstanding meal. And a good place for a single diner - because it's loud and hopping! Yum!

Now kicking back. I'm going on a walking tour of the North End tomorrow morning - yum!

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Monday, July 20, 2009

On the road again

Just checking in - via my beloved netbook.

On the road again- this time en route to visit my family in New England. Of course, this will include 3 games at Fenway over the weekend - the three game series vs. the Orioles. I hope we see the return of Cla Meredith - that would make Kelly very happy!

The long drive today - 614 miles! - was eased by listening to audio books. They really make the miles fly by. I listened to a Jim Dale reading of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." Dale is an amazing reader of audio books - his Harry Potters are fantastic, as is his reading of "A Christmas Carol." Wow, I'd forgotten how absurd Carroll's work is! But the best part of the trip was the last 2 1/2 hours - I got out David Halberstam's "The Teammates." It's the story of the lifelong friendship of four Red Sox teammates: Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, Dom DiMaggio and Ted Williams. I read the book several years ago - and loved it! This reading - by Tate Donovan, who will forever by Jennifer Anniston's ex, to me! - is wonderful. Perfect for the last leg - when I was really running out of energy and needed a caffeinated boost - it went by so fast. I had a smile on my face and tiny tear in my eye. Such a wonderful story - and the author so captures these four wonderful men.

Good time to revisit this photo:

On to New England tomorrow!

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Friday, July 17, 2009

An Outlander returns to Turner Field

So, continuing our second Red Sox road trip. We flew from DC to Atlanta, and were hit by a massive heat wave. The game time temperatures on Saturday and Sunday were in the mid-90s, quite a shock to the system for my Boston-based buddy! We were so glad that we were staying in a hotel that was literally steps away from Turner Field - we went back after each game and threw away our clothes! :)

Friday, we had another awesome experience. We purchased tickets for a new adventure that the Braves are offering, something they call the "VIP Batting Practice Experience." Kelly and I (and 48 of our closest friends) met up with a guide at 5:15. We were led down onto the field, and we were able to stand behind the batting cages while the teams took batting practice! Several players came over and signed autographs, although we were much more interested in photographing our boys. It was ssssoo cool! We were able to stay down there for over an hour, snapping away.

Our tickets for the game were, as described by Kelly, "in the Park." In the second tier - really too far to take pictures. But we had a fun time - we could just relax and enjoy the Red Sox victory, 4-1. David Ortiz hit a home run, which is always good, and Beckett had 6 Ks over 7 innings. Did I mention that it was hot?

We started the day Saturday at a regional Red Sox Nation gathering, hosted by the Georgia "Governor." Fun to meet folks from all over the south - South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia. The game had been picked up by Fox, so that meant a 4:00 start - yes, not high noon, but still 95 degrees! Yikes! It was a pitchers' duel - Wake vs. Vazquez - and Sox won 1-0. Did I mention that it was hot?

Sunday's game was a 1:35 start, with Tommy Hanson facing Brad Penny. Game time temp was 91 degrees, so we waited as along as possible to get into our seats. We were seated in the "Hank Aaron Seats," which allowed us entrance into the 755 Club. A very nice (cool) spot to literally chill before the game. It was so hot, that I didn't even take my camera out! The Sox came out on the losing end that day, 2-1. And did I mention that it was freakin' hot? Thanks heavens for Nutragena Sunblock SPF85!!

This was my third Red Sox-Braves series at the Ted, so I'm beginning to feel like an old hand. Even on three hot days, there was a nice breeze when you strolled the concourses, which was a great break. I love their Tomahawk Ale - I think it's Bud, but... My only complaint is that there's nothing around the park. We stay right there, but that means you have to have a car and head to downtown or further for something to eat. I guess we get spoiled with how Fenway is set-up with Yawkey Way - but, for me, that is one of the nicest situations.

Here are the pictures!

Remember, if you click on the Picasa icon in the lower right, it'll lead you to the entire album. Enjoy!

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An Outlander at Nationals Park

My second Red Sox road trip of 2009 took me to Washington DC, to see Interleague play between the Red Sox and the Washington Nationals. The game took place at the one-year-old park that the Nationals call home, Nationals Park. It's a beautiful place! Lots of those open concourses, enabling you to watch the game and still enjoy the concessions. They have a great spot in center called the Red Porch - it opens a half hour before the regular beer concessions, so we became quite familiar with it! And it has cool, circular signage on top. Also fun is the Race of the Presidents! Poor Teddy Roosevelt always finds a way to lose.

We went to two of the three games. The Sox had won Tuesday night, and Wednesday's game was another victory, 6-4. Lester pitched well, and even laid down a sac bunt. Nick Green was nearly killed by a flying broken bat - he actually had to fend off the bat, which ended up, jagged end down, next to him. Scary. Hitting Coach Dave Magadan was tossed out of the game for arguing balls and strikes, and then coming out of the dugout onto the field. Exciting! And it beat the record-setting attendance of the night before, with a paid attendance of 41,530 - a new record.

Thursday, we did the Park tour. This is one of my favorite things to do when I'm on the road. You get to see all the places a "regular" fan doesn't see -- the Press Box, the dugout, the ritzy party suites. Invariably, when we do one, the tour is packed with Red Sox fans -- and this was true in DC. As for the Park itself, it was opened in 2008 - but there is a long-standing tradition of baseball in Washington. But because they were without a team for so long, many of the locals have shifted their allegiance to the Baltimore Orioles. The Nationals have a great venue, and hopefully, the fans will start to come.

After the tour, we wandered past the White House - so we DID see a non-baseball site! As we walked back to our hotel (the Red Roof in Chinatown - good location near a Metro), we stumbled onto this oasis for a short break: the Capital City Brewing Company. Traveling with Kelly is a beer education!

The Thursday night game was absolutely awesome! The Nationals had handled the sales for this game via a lottery - you registered for the opportunity to buy the tickets. We missed out - but when they did a second wave of ticket sales, we got in. The pairs were sparse - but Kelly managed to score two in the President's Section. We were in the first row behind home plate!! Our tickets also allowed us to have a "free" dinner in the Lexus Presidents' Club, of which we took full advantage. We spent part of our pre-game time enjoying an incredible buffet: prime rib, pork tenderloin, awesome vegetables, a huge cheese tray, desserts... Enjoyed while seated in an air-conditioned dining room, cloth napkins and all!

The game itself? Well, it was John Smoltz' debut as a Red Sox pitcher! I had been waiting for months for it - and it didn't disappoint. Oh, I know, Smoltz gave up four runs in the first inning. But he settled down after that - striking out the side in the 5th. Unfortunately, the offense was absent - even Rocco's homer in the 9th couldn't save us. Oh, well, if you can take 2 out of 3 in a road game series = good!

After the game, the President's Club was open for over an hour. Which was great, since the crowd of 41,985 (a new record) was all headed to the Metro at the same time! We sat and had some refreshments, and were able to watch the post-game press conferences through a window in the Club! Cool! And then head to a much less crowded subway.

A fantastic road trip - but it didn't end there. Friday morning Kelly and I hopped planes for Atlanta - and three games against the Braves!

Here are some photos:

Note: If you click on the picasa icon in lower right of frame, you can go to the full-sized album.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

An Outlander at Comerica Park, Detroit

I've tried to be productive during the All Star Break - and finally got around to downloading a ton of pictures from several trips. I realized that I had never posted on any of my trips in summer 2008 - so look for those shortly. In the meantime, here's a little bit about my trip to see the Sox play the Detroit Tigers June 2-4, 2009

I actually went up to Detroit a day early, and met some old friends from my days at the U of Michigan. We went over into Greektown for dinner - it was yummy and we had a lot of laughs. Then my wonderful travel buddy, Kelly, arrived on Tuesday. We were staying at the Hilton Garden Inn, just a few blocks from the park - a great spot that I recommend. Kelly and I ended up having lunch at Hockeytown - the Stanley Cup finals were going on then, so you can imagine that a hockey bar would be a hot spot!

We had great seats for all three games. Tuesday night, we were 4 rows behind the Red Sox dugout - the perfect vantage point to watch a crazed squirrel roaming the outfield during two different innings. The climax occurred when the Grounds Crew chased it into the RS dugout - you should have heard and seen the mad scramble among the players and photographers! NESN had some great video of it - but it seems to have been removed now. Oh well.

As for the game, Daisuke got his first victory - only pitched five innings, however. Papelbon nearly had a meltdown in the 9th - gave up three singles before striking out the side. Gasp! Final score: 5-1

Wednesday, we literally stumbled upon a great little spot for breakfast - crazily enough called the Detroit Breakfast House! It was on a forlorn block of Woodward - really the only thing that seemed open. Detroit has been hard hit by the economic slump, and it's really sad to look around at all the empty storefronts and out of work folks on the streets. But we had a great breakfast - as did Manny DelCarmen and his family, sitting at the next table! We explored the downtown a bit - rode the People Mover, which takes you on a circuit of the area. We actually saw a bunch of the players on their way to the park, which was very cool. On our way back, we stopped in at a place we found post-game the night before, the Detroit Beer Company. Great micro brewery - one that we managed to visit every day!

We discovered that if you purchase a game ticket for over $59, you can get early admission to Comerica through the Beer Garden or the Tiger Den - they open a half hour early for refreshments, then you enter when the gates open. So we took advantage of that!

The Wednesday game was terrific. We sat on the opposite side from the previous night, this time behind the home dugout. Beckett was very strong - had a no-hitter going through 6 2/3 innings. I had to go the bathroom from about the 3rd, but I refused to disturb the mojo! Youk got run over by a base runner in the 8th and had to come out - but was okay. And Lowell got tossed in the 9th - very rare for him. The 8th wasn't pretty - the Tigers scored 5 runs. But the Sox managed to hold on and won, 10-5 And we got a text in the early innings to say that our buddies had seen us on NESN!

Thursday was "get-away" day - meaning an afternoon game so that both the Sox and Tigers could head out afterwards for their next road game. We hit the Tiger Den for "breakfast" = a chili dog and beer! Not staying the WW program, obviously! We had great seats again - right behind the Tiger dugout. And it was another gorgeous day for baseball! The game marked the return from the DL for Dontrelle Willis - but it wasn't a great outing for him - only 2 1/3 innings and 5 earned runs. For us, Wakefield had another strong outing - the second time I've seen him pitch this summer! The Sox won, 6-3!

After having a beer at the Detroit Beer Works ($1 drafts with your Tigers' ticket!), we were steered to a great pub by the bartender, Foran's Irish Pub. A whole array of craft beers, and nice Irish fare.

I really liked Comerica - it's another in the retro line of ball parks. Kind of an old-fashioned feel, but with plenty of amenities to make it comfortable. Wide open concourses, so you never have to miss any of the action. Some cool things for kids to enjoy - the tiger carousel and a little Ferris wheel with baseball shaped carts. Celebrations of their past - statues of the great players like Kaline in the outfield. I was amazed when I first saw it, because it is shoehorned into a city block next to Ford Field, home of the football Lions. But once inside, it doesn't feel crowded.

Here are a few photos from another great road trip!

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

St Louis bound!

Globe Photo by Barry Chin
Last night, the 6 Red Sox All-Stars were saluted - and received their jerseys. Look at the grin on Wake's face. Yay!

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Always Good Seats Available Here!

For me, going to a live Major League baseball game is the ultimate in entertainment. It can be, in turns, fun, funny, scary, stressful, depressing, tragic. Perhaps I appreciate it all the more because I don't have a major league team here in town. Yes, we have the Dodgers' AA team, and it's entertaining to go see them play occasionally, but it's not the Majors. And it's not the Red Sox!

If I had a team in town, I feel certain I would go frequently. I think that's part of the reason I don't move to Boston, because I suspect that my entire life would revolve around getting to a game.

So I get a little ticked when I watch the morning baseball highlights (thank you MLB Network!), and see a half-full stadium. I forgive the local fans somewhat if it's a middle of the week day game. And I am sometimes forgiving if the team is scuffling (I'm looking at you, Washington Nationals!). But when a game is between two contenders in the powerful American League East, I'm scornful.

Such was the case last night in Tampa. The Rays were playing the Toronto Blue Jays. In case you've forgotten(!), the Rays are the defending American League Champions and went to the World Series last year. I had hopes that this would boost their attendance, which has always lagged. Last night, they played a thriller of a game, which ended with a walk-off hit by All-Star Ben Zobrist. Yet, it looked like a small crowd at Tropicana Field. A glance at this morning's box score shows the attendance at 15,252

Now, I've been to the Trop, and it's my least favorite park thus far in my tour of the stadiums. It's not near the population center, and there's not much around it to attract pre- and post-game fans. It's like watching a game in a hockey arena, the field itself looks awful, there are those catwalks to contend with, and it's filled by all those cowbell-wielding carpet-baggers. Still, on a hot, humid Florida night, what better escape from the heat?

So, while I had the box scores at hand, I took a spin around the two leagues, to see how some of the other teams are faring in attracting crowds. The economic news has been full of gloom, and many predicted low attendance figures for the teams. So how did they do on a middle of the week game?

American League
Baltimore Orioles at Seattle Mariners: 27,040
Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers: 29,104
Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox: 26,772
Oakland Athletics at Boston Red Sox: 37,981
New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins: 38,115
Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays: 15,252

National League
Pittsburgh Pirates at Houston Astros: 29,243
Cincinnati Reds at Philadelphia Phillies: 44,179
Atlanta Braves at Chicago Cubs: 40,531
Florida Marlins at San Francisco Giants: 34,157
San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks: 20,791
Washington Nationals at Colorado Rockies: 23,098
Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Mets: 40,027

Do you see what I see? The lowest attendance - aside from the Rays - was at the Diamondbacks game - and they still drew over 20,000. Even the Washington Nationals attracted a large crowd to the Rockies' game.

So what is wrong with the people in Tampa? How can they ignore their exciting young CHAMPIONSHIP team? Some claim that a new stadium will attract more crowds. Perhaps - but the folks down there need to build their fan base, fill the stadium, show the people with the purse strings that their money will be well spent. I, for one, hope this happens!

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In the meantime

I'm trying to find some of the more recent photos - I think they're stored on two different computers. In the meantime, SKATING BABIES!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I'm a dope

So, I got cleaning out files last night - and decided to clean up my Picassa account. I deleted the photo file for this blog - thinking the photos were all saved on Blogger. Uh, well, no.

So sorry for the blank spaces....I'm a doofus

Monday, July 06, 2009

Tim Wakefield, All Star

'Nuff said. Yeah Wake!

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Our Captain America

I was able to write-off Friday night's loss to the Mariners. The team was just back from a long road trip, the M's were coming off a big series against the Yankees... But yesterday's loss was a lot harder to handle. The Sox offense never seemed to get it together - not able to capitalize any time there were men on base. Add to that the fact that I was unable to watch the game - thanks to that deal that Fox made with Bud Selig, NESN couldn't broadcast the game nationally. Although it was fun to listen to the radio broadcast via's Gameday Audio service, I missed seeing the sight above: Jason Varitek in his "Captain America/4th of July" catching gear. This was the only photo I could find of it - but it was pretty breathtaking. Add to that his terrific offensive output (his 12th homer of the season after only hitting 13 for all of last season!) - and, well, Tek seemed willing to carry the team himself.

So, hoping for better performances all the way around today, as the Sox close out the series with Seattle.

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

A perfect antidote

Yes, the past two games have been teh suck. Losing two - at home - to the Seattle Mariners is hard to swallow. Especially since we had MANY opportunities to score and to win - opportunities that we couldn't seem to cash in on. And the idea of being swept by the M's AT HOME???

But I found the perfect antidote. In cleaning out some of the stuff I've saved on my dvr, I came across that glorious day in April 2008, when the 2007 World Champions were saluted at Fenway Park. To see our boys collecting their second - or first! - World Series ring = awesome! To see Bill Buckner's reception at Fenway after years of being made the scapegoat = priceless!

It reminds me to keep the faith!

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Citizen Bay

AP Photo (Eric Shelton)

Congratulations to the newest American citizen: Jason Bay. He took his oath of citizenship this afternoon in Boston, although he'll retain dual Canadian citizenship. I wonder if they'll recognize this during the games this weekend? Would be timely, with the Fourth of July.

Meanwhile - the Yankees lose!


Another perspective

Here's a screen capture from the RS-Nats' game of June 25th. Check out the redheads in the upper right corner! Cool!